Mexican president says NYT ‘lacking in ethics’ over coronavirus report

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday The New York Times is a “famous outlet, but lacking in ethics” after the newspaper ran a report detailing disparities between state and federal coronavirus death tallies in the country.

“In this case it’s clear they didn’t do the work, that they acted in a biased manner, lacking ethics. So let’s not allow ourselves to be blindsided, if we don’t lie, don’t steal and don’t betray the people there’s nothing to fear, even if it is The New York Times,” López Obrador said at his daily press conference.

The Times report cited growing tensions between López Obrador’s administration and the Mexico City government, where city officials told the publication that the toll of the virus is being undercounted by the federal government.

López Obrador used part of his two-hour Monday morning press conference to rail against “conventional news media,” which he said are in decay, as part of the “crisis of neoliberalism.”

The Mexican president called out the Times, along with The Washington Post, the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal as examples of news media “in crisis.”

The Journal ran a story Friday, citing other sources, corroborating the undercount reported in the Times investigation.

Spanish daily El País published Friday its own statistical analysis of government data, which produced an estimate of 620,000 to 730,000 cases of symptomatic COVID-19 in Mexico, far beyond the official count of just under 30,000 cases.

The reports coincided with a public video conference featuring three former Mexican public health secretaries casting doubt on both the government’s handling of the pandemic and the veracity of its statistics.

One of the former officials, Julio Frenk, said thousands of hospitalizations labeled “atypical pneumonia” were likely COVID-19 cases.

The media reports and the conference by former health officials were widely shared on social media, which López Obrador deemed a coordinated political attack against his administration.

“That story is published in The New York Times, and like a chain they begin to retweet it, all the Mexican conservatives or their spokesmen,” said López Obrador.

“Journalists, organic intellectuals, politicians, the corrupt, all of them. I think they even knew — that’s something The New York Times could verify — I think they knew the report was coming,” he added.


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